OverviewFrequently Asked Questions



Wondering what a particular adoption term means? Find out on our Glossary of Adoption Terms page.


What kinds of children and youth are available for adoption through Adoption SF?

We find families for children ages one to 18 waiting in San Francisco’s foster care system. They are of diverse ethnic backgrounds; most are African American and Latino. These children are often sets of siblings who need to be placed together. They may have been neglected or abused and cannot return to their birth families.


What is the foster/adopt process of becoming an adoptive parent?

The foster/adopt process qualifies you to become a foster parent while you are going through the adoption process – so the child you choose to adopt will come to live with you in your home as the adoption is finalized.


What are the milestones to becoming an adoptive parent?

  • Call Adoption SF
  • Attend orientation
  • Family Fact Sheet
  • Personal interview
  • 20-hour training program
  • Home Study interviews and paperwork (4-6 months)
  • Match with a waiting child
  • Visitation with child
  • Child placed in your home as foster child as the adoption process begins
  • Negotiation of Adoption Assistance Program financial aid
  • Finalization of adoption


How long does the foster/adopt process take?

Four to nine months from application to completed home study is average for prospective adoptive parent(s). The amount of time depends on how quickly you are able to schedule the necessary appointments and complete your paperwork.


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How will I be matched with a child or children?

Matching your family with a waiting child is greatly dependent on your ability and willingness to consider the special needs of the children.

  • Throughout the process, you’ll be asked about your preferences regarding gender, ages and ethnicity of children or youth you want to consider for adoption.
  • We’ll assess your ability to work with challenges presented by children with special needs.
  • When your home study is complete, your social worker offers profiles of children who match your preferences and whose needs match your family's strengths.
  • Adoption SF then forwards your home study to the County workers responsible for the children in whom you’ve expressed an interest.
  • Adoption SF acts as intermediary and advocate for your family from start to finish.
  • If your family is chosen, there will be a disclosure meeting so you can learn more about the child you’re interested in adopting.


What will I learn about the child's history?

The county is required to provide adoptive parents with all information they have about the child.

    This includes:
  • Health and education history
  • Placement and behavioral history
  • Legal status
  • Reason for removal from the family
  • Relevant parental health history (if known)


Will the birth parents know who I am or where I live?

By mutual consent, many of our adoptive families enjoy positive relationships with birth parents, former foster parents or other people important to the child. We encourage families to recognize the importance of these connections to the child.


Will the child have any contact with the birth parents or family?

Some children may continue visits until the court terminates the parents' rights. After that, children usually have a "good-bye" visit with the parents. After the child's adoption is finalized, it is up to you to decide with whom the child has contact and how often.


Will the birth parents ever be able to get the child back?

When the court has legally terminated birth parents' rights, they no longer have any claim to the child and cannot petition to be reunified. After the adoption is finalized, you and the child have all the same rights as if the child were born to you. Some birth parents do appeal the decision to terminate their rights, and this appeal can delay the adoption. 99% of these appeals are decided in the favor of terminating the birth parents’ rights.


How much does the process cost?

Adoption SF provides its services free of charge. You will be asked to pay for fingerprinting, CPR classes, and any necessary water safety classes, but some of these expenses may be reimbursable after the adoption is finalized.

Adoption SF also provides a monthly stipend while the child is in foster care in your home. After the adoption is finalized, the Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) helps with ongoing assistance until the child is 18. Medi-Cal is also provided while the child is placed with you.


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Can I adopt children from other states?

Yes. Although we work primarily with children who are waiting in San Francisco’s foster care system.


Can I use your services if I live outside California?

No. We are licensed to work only with families in the nine Bay Area counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma and Marin.


What does "special needs" mean?

The term special needs is used to describe many things children and youth in foster care have experienced or continue to deal with. All children in foster care have been removed from their birth family or have experienced profound loss in their young lives. Many children have been abandoned, neglected or otherwise mistreated. Some have experienced physical or sexual abuse. Some were exposed to drugs during their mother's pregnancy. Other children have ongoing medical issues or are medically fragile. Most are children of color, and many are members of a sibling group who must be placed together. See our Glossary of Adoption Terms for specific issues.


Does a couple need to be legally married to adopt a waiting child?

No. You do need to demonstrate that your relationship is stable and committed.


Can I adopt if I have a criminal history?

People with convictions for minor offenses which occurred in the distant past may be able to adopt; each case is considered on an individual basis.


Can I adopt if I don't have a California driver's license?

You do not have to have a driver's license if you have a current California identification card and can demonstrate the ability to transport the child as necessary.


Can I be licensed to adopt by another agency as well as Adoption SF?

No. You can only work with one agency at a time.


Can I change the adopted child's name?

We will work with you on an individual basis to address issues related to a child’s name.


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